The United Arab Emirates is known for the tallest human-made structure, the Burj Khalifa, and the Burj Al Bedouin, one of the tallest lodging working on the planet. The UAE is well known for a few fake islands like the Palm Jumeirah island, the World, and The Universe archipelagos.
The United Arab Emirates, or UAE, is a federation of seven emirates on the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. The country, wedged between Oman and Saudi Arabia, has rocky desert, wetlands, waterless mountains and coastlines that stretch along the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
The emirates that currently comprise the UAE were known as the Trucial States in the 19th century as a result of a series of agreements with Great Britain. In 1971, six of these states merged to form the UAE; a seventh joined in 1972.
Prior to the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century, the UAE’s economy was based primarily on fishing and a pearl industry. When oil exports began in the 1960s, the country’s economy rapidly transformed. Today, the UAE’s per capita gross domestic product is on par with those of leading Western European nations, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. And the World Economic Forum has named the country the most competitive economy in the Arab world.
While conservative at heart, the UAE is one of the Gulf’s most liberal countries, with a constitution that allows for freedom of religion. The country is made up of a federation of monarchies, where the legal system is a mix of civil and Islamic law. Suffrage is limited – with only a few chosen citizens able to vote for the unicameral Federal National Council – and political parties are banned.
The UAE is known for its two largest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which draw millions of tourists each year. Dubai, a regional business hub known for its sleek skyscrapers, is home to the largest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa. Abu Dhabi is the seat of the Federal National Council and serves as the national capital of the UAE.
The UAE avoided the widespread unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East during the Arab Spring, though in 2011 political activists and intellectuals called for greater public participation in governance. In response, the government launched infrastructure investment plans to help the poor and also cracked down on those calling for reform. Rights groups have criticized the government for detaining, disappearing and sometimes torturing its challengers.
The UAE is a member of the United Nations, OPEC, the World Trade Organization and several other international organizations.